Novelist John Herrick is back with a new interview! Today we’re talking about his new romantic comedy, Mona Lisas and Little White Lies.
During his virtual book tour, John will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!
John Herrick is best known as a chronicler of the human heart. His complex characters and earnest tone prompted Publishers Weekly to write, "Herrick will make waves." When he is not writing, he loves long drives on the interstate. He is a sucker for 1990s music. Herrick lives in St. Louis. Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, John! Please tell us about your newest release.
Lily is an independent—and foul-mouthed—auto mechanic. Ryder is a commercial artist who meets her during a random encounter while she’s at her most beautiful and falls in love at first sight. From that point forward, Lily becomes his muse. He builds an imaginative world for her … a world in stark contrast to her reality! So what happens when Lily starts to realize she prefers Ryder’s version of her world better than her own? You’ll need to read the book to find out.
What inspired you to write this book?
About 20 years ago, I brought my car to the auto shop to have something worked on. The person working at the front counter was a woman in her 20s. You don’t see that very often, and I wondered how it felt for her on her job. I wondered what kind of work she did there, how she interacted with a staff that was, aside from her, male. I wondered how others perceived her—and how she perceived herself. I started planning the story about 10 years later, around the time I was planning my novel From the Dead. Then I set Mona Lisas aside, coming back to it every so often. Once it was finished, its publication kept getting delayed by my other books. By the time it was ready for Mona Lisas to be released, I had to go through the manuscript another time to update it. Technology had changed!
Excerpt from Mona Lisas and Little White Lies:
Lily considered the man handsome with his firm jaw and wavy, brown hair. In fact, he had one of those faces which could, with one glance, render you at ease. She sensed instant comfort in his presence. He also had the sort of appearance that made you feel as if you had met him before.
And Brooke was right. The woman looked exactly like Lily. Her hair color, complexion, nuances in her face and fingers—Lily recognized them all.
Brook leaned over her shoulder. “See what I mean?”
“Yeah…” Stunned, Lily examined the woman closer but couldn’t find the words to speak. An honest-to-goodness lookalike! Yet somehow, that red dress and fancy environment had transformed her into a different person altogether. The change had escorted her into another world!
Even though this woman was a fictional character, Lily tried to imagine her background and what she did for a living. The superficial differences between Lily and this woman were obvious, but Lily knew something else must have come into play between a couple like this. What did this woman have that Lily didn’t? What would draw this particular man to this particular woman?
A hint of jealousy stabbed Lily’s heart, but she shoved the feeling aside.
Before she knew it, Lily pictured herself in the woman’s place—which wasn’t difficult, given the similarities.
She imagined the floral scent of that wine…
The brush of the red dress against her thighs…
His arm around her waist…
What am I doing?!
Lily snapped the magazine shut and tossed it on the dining room table.
What’s the next writing project?
It’s a drama about a police officer in Manhattan. It combines family, love, loss, the paranormal—and documents what happens when they all come crashing together. I’m bursting at the seams to share that story with you!
My biggest challenge is showing up every day when it feels like I’m dead inside. It happens with every book, until something unlocks, the dam opens up, and the ideas suddenly fall into place. But until that happens, to be honest, I feel like a failure. I sketch everything in detail—a 100-page mini version of the novel—before I write the first draft. So in my case, most of the creative work occurs before I write the book. Writing the book is a matter of showing up each day and expanding on a story I’ve already told once.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I conduct research before outlining my novel, to get a feel for my characters’ world. It also helps prevent logistical issues down the road. If I don’t conduct research first, I risk making an assumption about a detail on which the entire novel hinges. That would mean rewriting the whole novel, and if I learned nothing else from working in the IT field years ago, I learned the value of efficiency!
For Mona Lisas, I visited the studio of a commercial artist. I’d never seen so many color options in my life! What fascinated me is that his studio was filled not only with his current projects and past work, but it was filled with books. Tons and tons of books throughout his two-story studio. Topics covered everything from history to automobiles. I learned a good artist is much like a good writer—he researches his projects before he begins.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
My writing space is a Starbucks around 5:30 a.m. I write for 2-3 hours while watching the sunrise. I’ve learned to write anywhere and have tried to transition as much as possible to digitally-based methods, which has increased my productivity while expanding my options.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I love John Grisham’s early works. I also try to get my hands on everything by Joseph Finder, Sheldon Siegel, and others. I read a ton of James Patterson because he’s a master a writing with a particular commercial goal in mind, so I study what he does. But I tend to read everything from suspense to American history to politics. I love memoirs/biographies about U.S. presidents and media giants like Clive Davis, LA Reid, and Tommy Mottola. One recent read was The Real Coke, The Real Story, about the rise of Coca-Cola and the New Coke debacle of 1986. I followed that up with Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. So I never know what’s next!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Thanks so much for letting me stop by! If you enjoy a chuckle and books by Nicholas Sparks or Emily Giffin, you will probably enjoy Mona Lisas and Little White Lies. And feel free to follow me on my socials!
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
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